Never one to miss out on cornering the value segment of a market, EasyJet’s founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou has teamed up with UK digital music stalwart Wippit to provide a cheap digital music service. Wippit was already being referred to by some as the Easyjet for the iPod crowd so this is really a natural progression.
However, one wonders if Stelios knows exactly what he is getting himself into this time? It’s all well and good saying that you will sell tracks for as little 25 pence a go, but that is almost certainly going to be for non-major label content in unprotected MP3 format. If it is major label content then Stelios would be making a massive loss, and that doesn’t really fit in with his business ethos.
Selling cheap flights is one thing, selling cheap digital music is an entirely different proposition. If you buy a flight to Barcelona with EasyJet you know you are going to get to the same city in approximately the same time, in pretty much the same kind of plane. There might be some difference in airports and flight times, but that’s about it. Yet if you pay 25 pence for a track youíre not about to get the latest major label release, and if youíre a typical young Easy customer, odds are youíre not going to be too chuffed with the choice of George Clinton et alís back catalogue that you have to choose from. Thatís the budget airline equivalent of having to take a de Haviland Lancaster converted four prop WWII bomber to Barcelona instead of an Airbus or a 757.
And if Stelios wants to get the major label catalogue on board at 25 pence a go, heíll have a shock.
There is absolutely space in the digital music market for value players, just as there is in the traditional retail space. However I am not sure that Stelios realizes that in the music space being a value retailers typically means selling less popular and older catalogue. The bargain bucket at Woolworths simply doesnít have the same quirky cool as an easyCar Smart.